Bagel, the Doughnut Look-Alike That Every Bread Lover Must Try
We’ve all heard of flaky French Croissants and the flavourful Italian Focaccia breads, but did you know about the humble Polish Bagel? The word ‘bagel’ is originally combined from the terms ‘beigel’ in 20th century English, Polish ‘bajgiel’, and ‘beygel’ from the Yiddish dialect. This golden-brown bread is hard in the first bite, yet delightfully soft from the inside. Their crispy exterior gives way to a densely layered, chewy bread interior that is baked to perfection. However, they are processed through a unique method, unlike other bakery items.
The yeasted wheat or dough is kneaded to form a ring using hand as a shaping device. The bagels are then proofed for some time, to let the yeast make the bread rise. This is the unique part- the bagel is now boiled in water, which may contain additives such as maple syrup, honey, or baking soda. This step is what makes the bagel interestingly crispy, deliciously chewy and shiny in appearance. It is post the boiling that these rings are set to bake to perfection, and they get their quintessential bread-y taste.
Bagels go well with your morning cup of tea or coffee, and also as an evening snack with toppings such as cream cheese or butter. These ring-shaped breads can be quite appetizing as they are much bigger than donuts in style. They can be customised for lunch, by adding more toppings such as onions, tomatoes, lettuce or salmon. What’s more- they’re easier on the calories and don’t pile on unnecessary fat and cholesterol.
Freshly-baked bagels have been historically associated with Eastern-European Jewish communities from the early 17th century. The first-known bagels claim to be originally from Poland, where the word ‘Bagel’ was mentioned in written historical records in Krakow. As the Jewish communities migrated to North America, the bagel grew in popularity for its unusual taste. The traditional hole-in-the-bread design though, was not unique to Poland as several other countries also had similar breads in their cuisine. The hole was simply considered to be of logistical ease, as the breads could be practically threaded into rods of metal and baked together.
Bagels are available in a number of varieties and flavours- ranging from plain, salty, cheese, whole wheat, rye, sourdough, multigrain, sesame, and onion among others. Some of the sweeter versions include blueberry, cinnamon, raisin, chocolate chip and so much more. There are also variations with the bagel’s size- such as mini bagels, extra-large bagels and flat bagels, also known as ‘flagels’. There is basically no end to the variations one can create with this flexible bread. So customise your bagel according to your preference today!